AOA to Establish Task Force on Diversity and Inclusivity

By
More Images
ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA), moving to follow-up on its earlier statement  on the national dialogue around diversity following the death of George Floyd, has taken the opportunity to look inward and assess how the organization can be even more impactful and focus on advocacy for doctors, patients and as a profession. One of the results has been the effort to develop a board-level Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force appointed by AOA president William T. Reynolds, OD.

Through the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, AOA is listening closely to colleagues from across the profession and throughout health care in order to ensure that optometry leads and serves as an example for a better future, the association noted.

“Through the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, our AOA is listening closely to colleagues from across our profession and throughout health care in order to make absolutely certain that optometry leads and serves as an example for our focus on a better future,” said Jacqueline M. Bowen, OD, AOA trustee and task force chair. “We recognize upfront that ours must be a sustained commitment, and that’s been at the heart of everything we’ve been working on since day one.”

The AOA board of trustees determined that the task force’s initial actions will include:

• Gaining the perspectives of member doctors of color.

• Building diversity in its volunteer structure, including improving recruitment and leadership development of non-white doctors of optometry.

• Encouraging the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry to attract more enrollment diversity by expanding its “Optometry Gives Me Life” campaign messaging.

• Arranging for additional diversity and inclusiveness training for staff.

In addition, AOA is encouraging optometry schools to participate in Impact HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), a virtual event on Oct. 6 that will showcase the industry and build a pipeline to the profession. Impact HBCU is hosted by Black Eyecare Perspective, an organization that advocates open dialogue surrounding implicit bias, organizational structure and policies which lead to a lack of diversity and exclusion in eyecare.